Barbuto is a DJ producer based in Austin, Texas and produces music for labels such as Octopus, Renesanz, ReLoad Black, Nature Viva and soon Transmit & Phobiq. He has a monthly residency at Kingdom and Plush with special guests, and is fresh off the release of his La Puerta EP which came out November 21st on Renesanz.
As one of the biggest exponents of techno and house in Austin, Barbuto was kind enough to tell us a little bit about the flourishing underground dance music scene in the city that he calls home:
“When you think of underground dance music, Austin is probably not the first city that pops into one’s mind. Vastly different than more traditional and well-known large cities, Austin has for decades laid claim to the title ‘Live Music Capital of the World’.
With such a vast and interesting history of music and art in all of its genres and forms, electronic music has had its place in Austin for a very long time. In the past 10 years, thanks to a handful of dedicated key players, its developed into one of the busiest underground dance music cities in North America. Like many places around the globe, EDM has a strong presence, and its underground wake has grown bigger and bigger; today, it’s not uncommon to see lineups with top jocks such as Adam Beyer, Maceo Plex, Nicole Moudaber, Matador, Sasha, Digweed and more on regular rotation.
The dedication of local DJs is what really makes the vibe and atmosphere of Austin so special. Mark Knight from Toolroom recently posted that Kingdom was a top-10 favorite club, alongside similar statements from heavy hitters Alan Fitzpatrick, Jewel Kid, Sian and Danny Howles. I guess when you mix traditional Southern Hospitality and politeness, a worldwide top-20 DJ booth, great restaurants and an extraordinarily excited crowd, those comments makes total sense.
Alongside the city’s staple club Kingdom are hot spots such as Plush, which have supported amazing local talent for more than 15 years. One foot inside Plush with their custom sound, smiling faces, reasonable beverage pricing and local selectors, you would be quick to second take that you are even in Texas. I cannot be more enthusiastic than to say if you have never been to Austin, you are missing out on a great time. Here are a few pointers from someone who has been in the local scene for close to ten years now, and who is proud to be a part of it.
While the list of clubs, music venues, art galleries and restaurants is in the hundreds, and I simply don’t have room to mention them all here, I will make a few suggestions as to how one might make a weekend count in the city if you are a fan of deeper realms of electronic dance music, namely techno, tech house, deep house, etc. I will go ahead and leave out any logistical planning such as transport to and from the airport and will focus on some hot spots I feel will result in a good time and a worthwhile visit.
While the weather in Austin is generally quite mild for most of the year, it can get quite hot in the middle of Summer and chilly in the middle of Winter; Spring and Fall are good times to visit. In March we have the very popular SXSW Music Festival that takes place over three weeks with a focus on different forms of media each week, namely interactive technology, film, and then finally music the third and final week. The festival attracts upwards of 400,000 people who flock here for all types of music, art and food. Included in the mélange of attractions is a vast choice of electronic dance music. Just a few participants in the last few years include Richie Hawtin, Marco Carola, Sasha, Pete Tong, Sian, Claude VonStroke, Christian Smith and literally dozens more. What sets SXSW apart from a typical festival are official (badge-holder) events, and unofficial events (not sanctioned by SXSW, the difference being quite self-explanatory, with unofficial events slightly more hidden). A visit to Resident Advisor should list what is happening on both the official and unofficial side of things. Truthfully, while a visit to Austin during SXSW can be an extremely exciting, action-packed thrill ride, it can also be hectic, expensive and difficult to move around.
The other option is to visit on any of the other weekends, which subtracts the mass influx of population down to the locals – when you will find yourself in a city rich with diversity, culture and with lots to do. I might be so inclined as to suggest booking a room at the Driskill, right on historic Sixth Street. The historic hotel is known best for its lavish old-school luxury, its top-tier cuisine and a few ghost stories. It’s positioned right in the center of town, so it’s easy to walk or catch one of the city’s numerous pedicabs from there.
Obviously food is a big part of the equation, with Texas BBQ typically a guaranteed entry on the list of must-do’s. The city’s most famous is Franklin’s BBQ; however, with wait times often over an hour or more, you may want to check your favorite food app for an alternative – they are all pretty darn good. A personal favorite of mine is a short hop to the South Side at a place called Bouldin Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant with a myriad of awards that will not leave a meat eater disappointed or still hungry. This is where we often take traveling DJs because the food is delicious, nutritious and keeps your energy going all night.
After checking into the hotel, a nap and a meal, it’s time to head out on the town and see what the city is made of. On the top of the average traveler’s mind is Sixth Street: it’s definitely worth a stroll down the street where you can catch plenty of diverse live music and $1 you-call-its! Barcelona on 6th is a popular underground – it is literally underground – spot for local and traveling DJs rotating a variety of genres throughout the week, as well as Vulcan Gas Company, which focuses mostly on big EDM acts with a few underground names popping up on its calendar.
A must-stop on the radar is the historic DJ bar Plush on the corner of 7th and Red River. This venue has been around for more than 15 years supporting local DJs and guests seven days per week. Plush is an Austin staple and rotates one of the oldest drum-and-bass weeklies in the country on Tuesdays, house and techno Wednesday through Friday, hip-hop on Saturday, and more house and techno on Sundays. Before booking your weekend getaway to Austin, be sure to check Resident Advisor for what is going on so you land here on a weekend and catch one of your favorite artists.
Whether its Adam Beyer, James Zabiela, Fur Coat or Dubfire, you can plan on coming here for one of your favorites, who will most likely play the legendary Kingdom Nightclub. DJ Remmington (Garrett Boyd) built the club himself and has spared no expense in designing a masterpiece of a place to party, dance and, if you are up in the rankings, DJ! From the door staff to the bar, hospitality is on point, and Kingdom is a place I call home. The club is open till the wee hours – as late as 4:30 a.m., one of the only established after-hours in the city – and is in no hurry to stop the party at any time if its full speed ahead: Sasha’s typical routine is from the club straight to the airport. Kingdom’s after hours is nothing short of insane!
Just down the street is a cool spot called Ethics, at the corner of 5th and Congress, where I had the privilege of playing with Christian Smith during SXSW 2016 as well as literally dozens of other interesting and unique bars and music venues. The friendly faces of Austin might draw you to the popular after-after house parties that spring up once Kingdom closes, so the above routine should keep you busy until the sun rises. Austin embraces its visitors and has so much culture to offer. We hope to see you soon!”
Connect with Barbuto: Online | Facebook | Instagram | SoundCloud
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